Established in 1935, McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC is a full-service business law firm with over 140 attorneys in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. The Columbus, Ohio office of McNees was established almost 20 years ago and provides client services in the areas of Patents and Intellectual Property, Energy and Utilities, Labor and Employment, and Construction and General Litigation.
Mr. Courtney J. Miller, who is a member of McNees, and who practices patent law in the Columbus office of the firm, answered our member spotlight questions below.
Tell us about your company’s mission and values.
McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC provides professional legal services of superior value designed to enhance the success of each of our clients. The firm does this with creativity and integrity, which includes anticipating problems and implicitly understanding the needs of our clients. We foster a firm culture that attracts and retains the best people and enables each of us to achieve our professional goals. We work with enthusiasm and unity of purpose. We are and will continue to be leaders in our community and profession.
What are the services you use the most (or are looking forward to using) from the Columbus Chamber?
We are looking forward to utilizing the resources of the Columbus Chamber for building brand recognition and enhancing our marketing efforts and client development activities in central Ohio. We value the Chamber’s relationship with its membership and intend to utilize this relationship for the purpose of promoting programs and publications of interest to the local business community. We also wish to expand our professional network and make the local business community more aware of the breadth and depth of experience, expertise, and services that we offer.
How do you stay engaged with trends that you see in your industry?
Patent attorneys and Intellectual Property attorneys work in a profession that is constantly changing with regard to statutory law and particularly precedential case law. Accordingly, it is necessary to stay engaged with various trends through ongoing continuing legal education (CLE) and by utilizing legal databases, current legal publications, and various Internet-based resources. A patent attorney must also be well-versed in the evolution and advancement of numerous technologies.
What do you think differentiates you from your competitors?
With regard to patent procurement (commonly referred to as patent prosecution), I take a very direct and personalized approach to every patent case. Whenever and wherever possible, I meet face-to-face with each inventor at their laboratory, hospital, or engineering facility to discuss a technology or product or interest, inspect prototypes or commercial embodiments, and view demonstrations of the technology or product to be protected. I spend the time necessary to develop a relationship of trust and openness with each inventor and I regularly confer with project managers, technology officers, and commercialization directors to be certain any patent is drafted to best protect the technology and/or product in a competitive commercial market. I also emphasize the importance of establishing and maintaining freedom to operate and avoiding patent infringement litigation as a defendant, whenever possible.
What is your company culture like?
McNees insists on a culture of respect, fairness and collegiality among co-workers, which fosters a positive and constructive working environment. McNees is also strongly committed to the “Clients First” philosophy, which makes it possible to develop long-term, highly productive client relationships built on efficiency, trust, and successful outcomes.
What advice would you have appreciated hearing when first starting your career?
Being a lawyer in private practice requires an enormous commitment of time and energy, often to the detriment of other aspects of a person’s life. People who are not familiar with the traditional law firm business model are often unprepared for rigors of life in a law firm and may find the profession frustrating or unfulfilling. Good advice for anyone starting a career in law is to know what you’re getting into and be prepared to make sacrifices. Success is earned, it is not an entitlement.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I try to participate in creative endeavors, whenever possible. For many years I was a semi-professional musician writing, producing, and performing all-original material. This undertaking was a very important part of maintaining a work/life balance. I also try to enjoy art and nature, both of which can bring calm to the mind of a busy person. Maintaining a fairly high level of physical activity and exercising regularly is also important, in my opinion.
What business leader do you admire the most and why?
Cameron Mitchell. He is a true visionary and entrepreneur who has increased the quality of life for many in this community and elsewhere.
Where is your favorite place to have a meeting outside of the office?
A client’s research and development facility, laboratory, or engineering facility. I truly enjoy observing new technology in the environment in which it was created.
Why do you think Columbus is a great place to do business?
Abundant real estate, a stable economy, numerous colleges and universities, and a large city that still has a small town appeal.
Courtney is a member of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC and practices in the firm’s intellectual property and patent practice groups. He is a registered patent attorney with 20 years of experience in U.S. and foreign patent procurement, patent portfolio management, patent opinions, technology transactions, and technology development and commercialization. Courtney has drafted, filed, and successfully prosecuted hundreds of patent applications in the various technical arts and he has particular expertise in biotechnology, molecular biology, medical devices, drug delivery systems, welding and joining technologies, and consumer products.
Courtney has worked extensively with companies of all sizes, as well as research-oriented hospitals and universities, and he has effectively handled numerous negotiations and transactions related to the licensing and commercialization of new products and technologies. Courtney also provides clients with legal opinions, including freedom-to-operate, non-infringement, invalidity, and patentability opinions, and he engages in patent litigation. He also frequently works with clients to obtain USFDA approval for medical devices through the 510(k) premarket notification process.
Before practicing law, Courtney spent ten years as a research scientist in the biotechnology and medical products groups at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio where he was directly involved in numerous complex research programs sponsored by industrial, commercial, and governmental clients.
Courtney is a frequent author, presenter, and speaker on various legal topics and has been an executive mentor for the Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Commercialization course offered by The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.
Learn more about McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC on their website.